Monday, 11 July 2011

Les Petits Mouchoirs (Little White Lies), Guillaume Canet, France 2011

It's one thing to have a film with an interesting premise and another to take this premise and turn it into a tight, coherent, screenplay.

While Canet succeeded in the first point, he failed utterly in the second. Although, to be fair, his film starts off on the right foot: For about 90 minutes or so Les petits Mouchoirs comes along as a latter-day version of Woody Allen's best soul-searching tragicomedies of the 1980s. But about one and a half hours into the film, Canet runs out of steam, and what until then was a witty, often funny, yet light attempt at dealing with the mishaps and shortcomings of today's city-dwellers, becomes heavy-handed, almost maudlin, conventional, family entertainment, one that ties up all the loose ends in the plot, making the direct opposite of Allen's films, where more often than not, no problems are solved; if anything, they've become worse over the course of the film. But then, that's life, isn't it?

I've wondered if it was the producers, with their eye forever on the box-office, who requested Les petits mouchoirs to have a more upbeat ending. The result however, is an ending that comes across as hopelessly contrived and unrealistic and, worse, tacked-on, so as if it was added as an afterthought.

And yet, Les petits mouchoirs was this close to becoming a French version of Hannah And Her Sisters - if only it ended after 90 minutes, as do literally all Woody Allen films. Well, it was Shakespeare after all who already knew that "brevity is the soul of wit" ... and I couldn't agree with him more.